Reinvent Albany Supports Meaningful Reforms
by Mayor’s Charter Commission to Campaign Finance System
Strong Support for Community Board Term Limits
Reinvent Albany strongly supports the resolution passed by the Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission today, which will put meaningful campaign finance reforms on the ballot this November for New Yorkers to vote on. We fully support measures the Commission will put on the ballot, including proposals to lower campaign contribution limits, increase the public funds candidates can receive, and increase the public match for contributions to $8 to $1 on the first $175 of a donation.
Reinvent Albany also strongly supports the Commission’s proposal for a ballot question creating term limits for community boards, and requiring borough presidents to put board applications online and standardize them.
Reinvent Albany believes the proposed changes to the campaign finance system will work together to encourage candidates to raise more campaign funds from small donors and rely less on big contributors to run for office. Relying on numerous small local donors rather than fewer big donors helps make candidates more responsive to the communities they serve.
Reinvent Albany Strongly Supports Lifting the Public Match Cap
Reinvent Albany campaigned for lifting the public match cap, which currently limits candidates to receiving 55 percent of their campaign funds from public monies provided by the public matching system. Under the Commission’s proposal, candidates will now be able to raise 75 percent of their campaign funds from the public match on the first $175 of any contribution to council and borough president candidates (or $250 for citywide contests.) Importantly, funds will be released earlier in the campaign season, another Reinvent Albany recommendation.
Reinvent Albany joined with Represent.us NY and Councilmember Ben Kallos to advocate for increasing the public match cap by testifying at six of the Commission’s public hearings. Our advocacy before the Commission followed a campaign in the City Council, in which we made hundreds of calls and emails to get a majority of Councilmembers co-sponsoring legislation to lift the cap. Reinvent Albany and Represent.us NY issued a report showing most Councilmembers raise most of their campaign cash from larger contributions.
Reinvent Albany Strongly Supports Further Reducing the Campaign Contribution Limits
The Commission also lowered campaign contributions by more than half from the current limits for candidates participating in the city’s public matching program, and by about a third for non-participating candidates. Contribution limits for citywide offices, will be reduced from $5,100 to $2,000 for participants in the public matching program, and to $3,500 for non-participants; limits for City Council will be reduced from $2,750 to $1,000 for participants and $1,500 for non-participants. Reinvent Albany was invited to testify by the Commission as experts on campaign finance, and recommended reducing the campaign contributions by half.
Reinvent Albany Supports Increasing the Public Match Cap to $8:$1
The Commission will also put before the voters a proposal to increase the public match rate from the current $6 in public funds for every $1 of the first $175 of a contribution to $8 in public funds for every $1 of the first $175 for candidates running for borough president and City Council. For mayor, the $8:$1 match will be on the first $250 of any contribution. Reinvent Albany testified to the Commission that the public match cap should be increased.
Reinvent Albany Supports Term Limits for Community Boards
In addition to campaign finance reform, the Commission will put on the ballot term limits for community boards, and a proposal to require borough presidents to put standardized board applications online. Board presidents will also have to report on their procedures for filling board positions.
Reinvent Albany Regrets Commission Did Not Act on Instant Runoff Voting or Redistricting Reform
The Commission did not act on redistricting reform or Instant Runoff Voting (aka Ranked Choice Voting). Reinvent Albany believes the Commission should have done so, and will take these measures up with the City Council Charter Revision Commission which holds its first hearings in September.
The Commission will release its final report later this month and vote on the exact questions which will go on the ballot.
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